Fast facts about Labor Day

Fast facts about Labor Day
Photo provided by MGN Online.
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POSTED: Monday, September 2, 2013 - 8:00am

UPDATED: Thursday, September 5, 2013 - 12:25pm

Here's a look at what you need to know about Labor Day, a legal holiday celebrated in the United States, Puerto Rico, and Canada to honor working people.


  • September 2, 2013 is Labor Day.
  • It is celebrated on the first Monday in September.
  • In many other countries, May Day (May 1st) is the day working people are honored. Most of Europe celebrates May Day.
  • For many, Labor Day symbolizes the end of summer.
  • As of July 2013, there were about 155.8 million Americans employed in the United States. (BLS)
  • Timeline: Early 1880s - The idea for creating a holiday to honor workers was proposed by either Peter McGuire of the Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners Union Secretary or Matthew Maguire of the International Association of Machinists. (U.S. Department of Labor) The Central Labor Union of New York appointed a committee to organize a picnic and parade in honor of working people.
  • September 5, 1882 - New York City held the first Labor Day parade. It is estimated that 10,000 workers participated. (U.S. Census Bureau) Not all employers supported the idea, but many union workers took the first Monday in September off anyway. Some unions levied fines against workers who did go into work. At the time, workers got time off for Christmas, the Fourth of July and every other Sunday.
  • 1887 - Oregon becomes the first state to make Labor Day a legal holiday.
  • 1894 - President Grover Cleveland and the U.S. Congress make it a national holiday.
  • Labor Unions: (BLS) In 1983, the union membership rate was 20.1% in the U.S. Membership was 11.3% in 2012.
  • New York has the highest rate of union workers among the states - 23.2%.

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